Saturday May 9th was XARC’s annual hidden transmitter hunt, traditionally held on CQ worldwide foxhunt weekend. I designed this hunt to be easy enough for beginners, but also added two more transmitters for a more challenging hunt. The hunt began in Dryer Rd. Park in Victor. There are dozens of mountain bike trails
here and I worried about hunters getting run over, but we were able to co-exist with the bikes without incident. We started with a practice fox in the parking lot and most of the 8 teams got very close to finding it (hidden in my car), some with newly constructed tape measure beams, or their first time with body fade techniques and
their HTs. Jarred, KF2MR, and his seven year old daughter Danica were the only team to actually find the practice fox. This was their first XARC hunt and Jarred was wearing his Yaesu FT-817 around his neck and using its built-in variable attenuator with a rubber duck antenna with great results, until the battery died.
The first competition transmitter was hidden inside the park and it
was a newly designed quad-fox I put together recently, four
transmitters in one case. The first of the four co-located transmitters is an Alinco DJ-C1 VHF 300mW HT connected to a Byonics PicCon fox controller. To make this easier for the beginners, a second, lower power transmitter on a different frequency was also in the same box. This was a Raspberry Pi computer running the PiFox software with no additional hardware. The Pi played a computer synthesized voice message on 146.565 at very low power, only detectable from about 100 feet. The two other transmitters making up the quad-fox were a wifi access point and an audible beeper.
Jarred and Danica got close to the transmitter and circled it several
times while hearing the lower power message, but failed to think 3
dimensionally and look up in the tree to see the gray ammo box in
plain sight. All the other hunters found the fox in less than an hour and we re-convened at the starting point to start the next leg of the hunt by car. Of the remaining two transmitters, only one was strong enough to be heard, and even then not by all of us, so I suggested they re-start at Finger Lakes Community College’s Victor campus on Route 251 three miles north, where both foxes could be clearly heard. A ½ watt W2NED/W2VAB foxmitter was hidden in Lehigh Crossing Park, between FLCC and Van Bortel Ford on Route 96. Another foxmitter with an 8 watt transmitter was 2 miles west in Fishers Park, along a nice trail between a swamp and a creek. Both had external antennas up in the trees.
Will KC2VSJ and Scott KC2ZQU were able to find all three foxes
and take the lowest numbered tags for the best score of the day.
Ned W2NED and Gregory also found all three and tied for second
place with the team of Rich K2RAH, Bill K2WEK and Paul
KC2GTO. Jarrod and Danica teamed up with Bob K2OID to find a
second fox. Lee WB2JOR teamed with W2NED to find two foxes.
Rookie hunters that were able to find the first fox were Kelly and
Chris KC2VCK, Harry KD2DWA, and Sandy KA2HQZ.
We met for our traditional post-foxhunt lunch at Mickey Finn’s in
Victor for some welcome air conditioning, cold drinks, good food
and fox hunt bonding.
Gimmicks like multiple transmitters are my way of trying to spice up
the hunt and make it interesting for those of us that have been doing this for over 15 years, but more gimmicks can
sometimes add confusion to the hunt and this one was no exception. Foxhunt fever can also be a factor even for us
veteran hunters, when your adrenaline gets flowing and you charge through the prickers/swamps/cliffs instead of looking
for an easier way to the fox. I’m glad we had a great turnout, especially from some rookie hunters, and hopefully they’ll be back for more fun in October for our Fall hunt.
If you’ve been wanting to try foxhunting, but haven’t been able to make it to one of ours, consider hosting your own. We’ll lend you the transmitter and help with other logistics or you can just wrap a rubber band around an HT. When the hunters get close, they’ll hear themselves coming over the air. You can hunt with your club, grandchildren, hamfest, etc. even indoors. Hiding the fox can be just as fun as hunting, especially if you can watch the hunters, or help the kids learn how to body fade.